Cyclone ‘Fani’ hits India’s East coast

Cyclone ‘Fani’ hits India’s East coast
A view of the destruction caused by Cyclone Fani after its landfall, in Puri, Friday.
BHUBANESHWAR/KOLKATA, MAY 3 | Publish Date: 5/3/2019 10:35:46 AM IST

 8 killed, over 12 lakh evacuated

Cyclone ‘Fani’ barrelled through Odisha on Friday, unleashing copious rain and windstorm that gusted up to 175 kmph, killing at least eight people, blowing away thatched houses, and swamping towns and villages, officials said.

The extremely severe cyclonic storm ‘Fani’ or the ‘Hood of Snake’ made landfall around 8 am in Puri, with roaring winds flattening huts, enveloping the pilgrim town in sheets of rain, and submerging homes.

Though the ‘extremely severe’ cyclone unexpectedly weakened into ‘very severe’ cyclonic storm in a matter of few hours, it left a trail of devastation in large parts of coastal Odisha, with the seaside pilgrim town of Puri being the worst hit.

At least eight people have been reported dead so far, senior officials said, adding information was still awaited from many areas.

While three people, including a teenage boy, were reported killed in Puri district, three perished in Bhubaneswar and nearby areas. Flying debris from a concrete structure fatally struck a woman in Nayagarh. An elderly woman died of heart attack at a relief shelter in Kendrapara district, official sources said.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said Puri district, particularly the holy town where the cyclone first hit the land mass, suffered huge damage. Hundreds of engineers and technicians were working on a war-footing to restore power supply.

Work is on to restore road communication, thrown into disarray with thousands of uprooted trees blocking the way in innumerable places, Patnaik said.

The chief minister said since the cyclone is still passing through Odisha, it will take time to make an assessment of the damage. The cyclonic system, whose eye is around 28 km wide, moved at around 30 kmph, Director of the Meteorological Centre Bhubaneswar, HR Biswas said soon after Fani made the landfall.

But within the system, the winds reached speeds of up to 175 kilometers per hour that gusted up to 200 kmph, leaving in their wake uprooted trees and thatched structures, including in the state capital Bhubaneswar.

The chief minister said nearly 12 lakh people were evacuated and shifted to safer locations within 24 hours ahead of the cyclone from about 10,000 villages and 52 urban agglomerations. The evacuees have been accommodated in over 4,000 shelters, including 880 specially designed cyclone centres where free cooked food is being served to them, he said.

Flight operations at Bhubaneswar and Kolkata airport remained suspended on Friday. Around 220 trains on Howrah-Chennai route have been cancelled keeping in view passengers’ safety, an East Coast Railway (ECoR) official said. As Fani pummelled Odisha, neighbouring West Bengal braced itself for its fury.

Rs.1000 cr relief

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, addressing a rally in Rajasthan’s Sikar Friday, expressed the Centre’s solidarity with people in cyclone-hit states and said Rs 1,000 crore has already been released for relief work.

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